NATIONAL PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE: Sockers FC loses on late goal

MIDLAND Kyle Crouse’s goal in the final minute of regulation proved to be the game winner as FC Denver defeated Sockers FC 2-1 in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game Wednesday at Grande Communications Stadium.

FC Denver’s Cesar Castillo scored a first-half goal, with the Sockers pulling even in the second half on Grant Mobley’s marker in the 64th minute when he converted a corner kick.

“Our team battled together,” FC Denver head coach Drew Melin said. “We fought for each other the whole game. We have a few things that we need to tighten up but we just kept battling. We played for each other.”

Both teams began the night on a promising note with close opportunities within the first three minutes, one of which was a Sockers corner kick that came up empty handed.

FC Denver’s forced Sockers goalkeeper Brin Lapuh to make a pair of diving saves with the first 16 minutes of the contest to keep the match scoreless.

But the visitors continued to pressure, with Lashaw Salta firing a shot over the crossbar in the 22nd minute.

Finally, after the Sockers saw a shot sail wide of the target, FC Denver was able to convert an attack with Castillo scoring in the 33rd minute.

But while the visitors created the bulk of chances in the first half, Sockers FC began to settle down in the second half and tied things up with Mobley’s equalizer.

“You have to give all the credit to FC Denver,” Sockers FC head coach Johnny Clifford said. “They played pretty well. We’ve had guys who are still getting adjusted and have just showed up. We haven’t had many practices and it showed.

“We just got beat by a better, more experienced team. You have to give credit to them. I don’t want to make excuses. I felt like we did enough to win the game but we had lack of fitness and experience and preparation. We paid the price for it.”

Then, with time ticking away, Crouse’s last second effort gave FC Denver its second US Open Cup win in the franchise’s history.

“I was glad to be able to finish off the game,” Crouse said. “It was a hard-fought battle. I’m really excited for this team. We had a great team-effort. A last minute-winner is something that everyone dreams about.

“I think we expected them to come out strong in the second half. It certainly woke us up. It was a good back-and-forth game. It was a battle until the end.”